What would you do if your fairy godmother appeared in a magic flash and offered you anything you wanted? Or if you found a leprechaun’s gold and he offered you three wishes to keep the secret? Or if you rubbed Aladdin’s lamp and the genie emerged to offer you any three wishes your heart desired?
For Solomon, this was no idle daydream or fairy tale. God Himself visited the king in a dream and offered him whatever he wanted (v. 5). Solomon may have been feeling some pressure and anxiety on account of his youth, the fact that he had inherited the throne from his legendary father, and the start of the temple building project. He might also have been feeling tempted to trust in politics, given that he had just formed an alliance with Egypt (v. 1). Offering sacrifices at the high places was not wise, but apparently God extended grace on this issue, for it was while Solomon was doing this at Gibeon that God appeared to him in a dream and offered him anything he wanted.
The new king humbly asked for a wise heart for leading Israel: “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties . . . So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (vv. 7–9). This response greatly pleased the Lord. After all, Solomon could have asked for fame or wealth or victory in battle. Because the king’s heart was in the right place, God blessed him far beyond what he had asked for. He promised him not just wisdom, but wisdom above and beyond any person who had ever lived (v. 12). Furthermore, He promised him the temporal greatness he hadn’t asked for. Solomon responded with worship and celebration (v. 15).
Apply the Word
Despite this incredible start to his kingship, Solomon didn’t finish well. What happened? There wasn’t a definitive moment of rebellion. Rather, he simply drifted away from the Lord. All the wives with their pagan idols played a role, as did his increasing wealth and fame. Worldly success is a powerful temptation, against which we also need to be on guard.